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The Health Benefits of Almonds

 

Unless you are allergic to them, then almonds should most definitely be on your grocery list. They are packed with a ton of nutritional elements, can be used in a multitude of ways. Almonds are versatile and have a simple yet delicious flavour.

This makes them a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Almonds are easy to find and come packaged year-round. However, if you can buy fresh in mid-summer when they are at the height of their season, then this is even more beneficial health-wise. And they are easy to carry with you anywhere you go! Just fill a bag or small pouch and eat them on the go. Distance runners have even been known to have a stash of almonds in their pockets to help them get through marathons and other long-distance runs. 

What Is Considered 1 Serving of Almonds?

First off, how many almonds in enough? Is there such a thing as too many? Too little? The answer is pretty simple. One serving of almonds is approximately twenty-three almonds.

1 Serving = 23 Almonds or one handful or 20-50 grams

162 calories

14 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat

6 grams of protein

Portion control is essential with almonds as they do have high-fat content; however, the fat they have is good fat, so this is positive. 

What are almonds?

Almonds are edible seeds. They are originally native to the Middle East but are grown all over the United States and other countries, but the U.S is the largest producer. Almonds can be used to make almond milk, oil, butter, and even flour and paste. This means that baking and cooking are all possible with almonds!

Almonds are often referred to as nuts. However, this is misleading. The almond that we know and recognize (mistakenly albeit) as a nut, is technically a seed from the fruit of the almond tree. Almond trees are medium-sized trees that have beautiful and fragrant pink and white flowers. They are cousins with peach, apricot, and cherry trees, and the almond that we know is the stone pit of the almond tree fruit. However, unlike peaches, apricots, and cherries, this is a stone pit that we can eat.

Almonds are so nutrient-dense that they can feel addictive, and once you start, it can be hard to stop! They can be purchased either shelled or blanched -this process signifies that the outer brown layer had been removed. Almond milk is also a great source of these nutrients and a great alternative to eating them fresh. You need to be careful with the store-bought almond milks as they often have a lot of sugar in them. It’s best to make your own at home with fresh almonds. 

What are the nutritional benefits associated with almonds?

Although almonds are considered to be a high-fat food, the fat that they have is monosaturated fat. This type of fat works to protect the heart and the arteries. It does this by ensuring that there are healthy levels of good cholesterol and low levels of bad cholesterol. Almonds are also a great source of protein and fiber. They are packed with Vitamin E and B, selenium, zinc, calcium, folate, and magnesium.

For vegans, almonds are essential as they can represent a good chunk of a vegan’s protein intake. Although non-vegans can benefit as well, getting all your protein from only animal sources can present some issues over the long term. It’s essential to have a varied diet and get a certain amount of protein from plant sources as well. 

Do almonds aid in weight loss?

You would think that with a high level of fat, weight loss wouldn’t be something almonds could help with. However, you would be wrong. Almonds are actually great for weight loss! This is because they are filled with good fats, which, when used in the right portions and as a snack, can help with satiety and maintain a healthy weight. Almonds are low in carbs but high in good things like protein and fiber. These increase satiety and, therefore, aid in eating less and help to ward against bad food choices. So, grab a handful of almonds and snack away! They are far better than a bag of chips! 

Do almonds reduce the risks associated with heart disease?

Almonds are filled with nutrients that help to protect the heart. This includes unsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, copper, manganese, and Vitamin B. This is especially true for people who are overweight and looking to help lose weight and have better heart health. Being that heart disease is a huge problem, eating almonds is a very positive solution. 

How can almonds help with blood pressure?

The magnesium in almonds helps to lower blood pressure! This is excellent news because heart disease is the number one killer in North America. And high blood pressure is the reason behind heart attacks, strokes, and even kidney failure. Adding almonds to your diet can really help to manage your blood pressure, especially if you are prone to having high blood pressure in combination with blood pressure medication, of course. Almonds are a great assist but not a replacement for medication. 

What about almonds and diabetes?

For those with Type 2 diabetes, eating almonds can help with cardiovascular issues and lowering of glucose in the blood. By reducing levels of fasting insulin and fasting glucose, almonds make for a very healthy option for patients with diabetes. As well, almonds have a high amount of magnesium, which is very positive for diabetics. Magnesium is a mineral that helps the body control its sugar. People with diabetes are notoriously deficient in magnesium. But when this is adjusted, often through things like increasing the number of almonds consumed, then this deficiency can be corrected. 

How do almonds affect the eyes?

Not apparent at first glance, but almonds do have many positive effects when it comes to eye health. They are rich in Vitamin E and therefore help to prevent changes in the lens of the eye -such as cataracts. As this is something that becomes a concern for almost everyone as they age, this is more than enough of a reason to make sure you’re eating almonds! 

What effects do almonds have on the brain?

Vitamin E and folate, as well as unsaturated fatty acids, are all great for brain health. Not to mention the carnitine, which in particular is known to protect the neurons in the brain. By providing healthy nutrients to the brain, almonds have even been shown to improve memory functions. Here too, the age factor becomes relevant. Many people have dementia and eventual diseases such as Alzheimer’s, some starting as young as in middle age. If the simple act of consuming almonds can help ward this off and improve the brain capacity that we do have, eating almonds should be a no-brainer! 

Do almonds help increase longevity?

We used to think it was an apple a day that kept the doctor away. However, some more recent research has shown that a handful of almonds a day can increase human lifespans and counteract the effects of aging when associated with neurodegenerative diseases and even diabetes. Bring on the almonds! 

Are almonds able to influence the gut microbiome?

A resounding yes on this one! Almonds are good for the gut! Whether you are eating almonds or even almond butter, both have been shown to have the ability to influence the gut microbiome positively. This is mostly due to their high amounts of fiber. If you have a healthy gut microbiome, then everything else in the body will fall into place too. Studies now show that most of our health issues are related to the health of our gut microbiome, so it is essential to make choices that will positively influence it. 

How is it that almonds are filled with antioxidants?

Almonds are filled with antioxidants, but these antioxidants rest particularly in the brown outer layer of the almond. This means that blanched almonds (the white ones with the skin removed) are not the best choice when it comes to maximizing the health benefits of the almond. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative stress -which in turn damages and erodes the cells and is the reason that the body can be prone to disease and inflammation as well as the visible signs of aging. 

Why is Vitamin E in almonds so important?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. This type of antioxidant can build up in the body and help to protect you and your body’s cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is defined as an “imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants” in the body. Too many free radicals, and you will end up with disease and sickness. This is why it is crucial to consume foods that are high in antioxidants. 

How do almonds lower cholesterol levels?

Almonds have been shown to lower the bad cholesterol in the blood. This is very encouraging as bad cholesterol is what contributes to heart disease. Many people, especially as they age, are prone to high cholesterol and eating almonds is a great way to manage this. 

In reality, staying healthy, especially as we age, is very important. There are many ways to do this, of course, proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and much more. However, sometimes, all these things become complicated and overwhelming. Almonds are not. Yes, you can use a food processor and make your almond milk. Yes, you can use them to make almond baked goods. But really? Just grabbing a handful as you walk out the door or on the way to your next meeting is more than sufficient. They will ensure that you feel satisfied, provide protein, fiber, and much more. They will help lower your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, and most of all, they taste delicious. Almonds are pretty close to being a perfect snack. So, pick some up today! 

 

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269468.php

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